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Lenovo lays down the law for its bankers

Few companies illustrate the new breed of Asian corporate titans as well as Chinese electronics firm Lenovo. It was founded in Beijing less than 30 years ago. Today, it is the world’s second-biggest PC vendor, with 27,000 employees and annual sales of around $30 billion.

Lenovo, like many successful fast-growing Asian companies, is cash-rich, with over $4 billion of cash on its balance sheet in 2012.

Damian Glendinning, the company’s treasurer, says this position leads him to take a traditional view of his banking requirements. "Obviously we need a place through which to process cash transactions," he says. "They do actually still fulfil that somewhat useful social service, despite what’s in the press, and we’d be somewhat buggered without it. All the basic stuff of cash management: where you pay it from and where you receive it, and transferring it from one place to another. People do forget it, but it is the whole reason we exist."

Clearly Lenovo’s needs are more sophisticated than this, but Glendinning’s key relationships in banking are based on getting these essential things right rather than anything more esoteric. Beyond cash management, there is a clear need in foreign exchange, "because we do have a fairly significant mismatch between the currencies in which we sell [largely renminbis] and the currency in which we principally incur our costs [largely dollars]," and this is an area he feels is commonly overlooked. "It happens to be the world’s largest market.

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